Nail biting is very common. Many people bite their nails for various reasons: they are anxious, it’s a habit, they are nervous, they learned to do it by watching others, or they are too lazy to go get a pair of clippers. It can also be a symptom of a disorder such as ADHD, separation anxiety, OCD, or other psychological disorders. Often, those who bite their nails also bite or chew on other things. They chew on pens, open packages with their teeth, and chew on their lips and cheeks.
Nail biting is a gross habit that exposes your mouth to all kinds of bacteria. Think about it, most people bite their nails while they are doing other things, not right after they have washed their hands. It’s often an unconscious habit and therefore done after touching many different, dirty surfaces. That alone should make one not want to bite their nails. Unfortunately, most people don’t think about biting their nails, they just do it. This puts them at higher risk for microbial and viral infections.
But most importantly to me, as a dentist, nail-biting does a number on your teeth. I have seen it many times, first hand, how the habit of biting one's nails caused permanent damage to the teeth. Many teeth start out worn down by other factors such as tooth grinding or misaligned teeth. Sometimes they are worn down by the act of nail biting. The forces of biting a hard fingernail cause the tooth to split or fracture. The classic nail-biting break is the lower front tooth that breaks down the tongue side of the tooth. It is common to see multiple chipped front teeth. Once you break a piece of tooth, you can never get it back. Sure, we can bond the tooth or veneer or crown it, but nothing is like having your own tooth structure. Once you need restoration, you have to expect that it will require being replaced periodically over your lifetime. And if the habit is not corrected, the restorations are also at the same risk for breakage.
Do yourself a favor and make a concerted effort to not use your teeth as tools of any kind. There are several methods out there for breaking the habit. Your fingers will look better, you’ll be healthier, and your teeth will hold up better!